Former Hip Hop star, Phyo Zeya Thaw, to be executed by Myanmar junta
The pro-democracy activist is 1 of 2 people who have been convicted of terrorism
In Myanmar’s 2020 general election, the National League for Democracy [NLD] won in a landslide victory. The military disputed the results and forcibly put the country’s power into a junta by arresting leaders of the NLD, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and fighting a war with its citizens.
In the two and a half years since, the military has killed nearly 2,000 people, arrested 14,000, and sentenced 114 to death. Phyo Zeya Thaw, a former rapper and pro-democracy activist, is one of the people that is set to be executed soon.
In 2000, when Myanmar was called Burma, Zeya Thaw’s band released the first Burmese Hip Hop album, Beginning. Many people in the music industry thought it would flop, but it went straight to number one and remained at the top of the charts for more than two months. The band attacked the military regime in charge at that time and talked about the hardships that the Burmese people living in poverty faced.
Zeya Thaw became known as an activist for his work with HIV-positive orphans and soon got into politics. He was one of the founding members of Generation Wave, who used graffiti to spread anti-government messages during the Saffron Revolution in 2007. He was jailed in 2010 and when he got out, he was banned from performing, so he became a member of the NLD and eventually won a seat in the House of Representatives.
After the latest junta in 2020, the military has faced serious pushback from Myanmar’s citizens. To scare the people, they convicted Zeya Thaw in a closed courtroom and said that all his appeals are up and he will be hanged soon. Zeya Thaw was charged with coordinating an attack on a train that killed five police officers as well as killing an informant. Most people in Myanmar believe that the charges are untrue, and the junta is saying these things to scare the population into submission.
There has not been an execution in Myanmar in 30 years. The deputy director at Human Rights Watch told The Guardian that the decision to “move towards executing two prominent political leaders will be like pouring gasoline on the fire of popular anti-military resistance in the country. Such a move will also lead to global condemnation and cement the junta’s reputation as among the worst of the worst human rights abusers in Asia.”